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VW Pilgrims Progress cover and score
VW Pilgrims Progress cover and score

Press release -

Oxford University Press marks 150 years of Ralph Vaughan Williams by donating historic collection to the British Library

  • OUP has published music composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams since 1906, when it first released hymn tunes for The English Hymnal.
  • The donation contains a broad range of historical archive materials including musical scores amended in Vaughan Williams’s own hand.
  • The items donated by OUP will form part of the national collection at the British Library and, on completion of cataloguing, will be available to everyone for research, inspiration and enjoyment.

Oxford, England, 12 October 2022: The world’s largest university press, Oxford University Press (OUP), has today announced that it will donate a collection of Ralph Vaughan Williams archive materials to the British Library. The donation recognises the 150th anniversary of Vaughan Williams’s birth and will enable scholars, musicologists, and the public to access important historic items relating to one of the major British composers of the twentieth century.

From its archive, OUP will donate a significant range of items. The collection will include music copyists’ full scores prepared for initial (pre-publication) performance, items with amendments in Vaughan Williams’s own hand, proof copies, manuscripts, and full scores marked by the conductors who gave early performances of his works.

Adding to the British Library’s extensive existing collection of Vaughan Williams-related material, OUP will also donate session materials for film scores written by the composer himself. The transfer of items from OUP to the British Library will increase the potential for further research, scholarship, and education relating to Vaughan Williams.

OUP continues to publish the majority of music composed by Vaughan Williams between 1925 and his death in 1958. This vast repertoire includes six symphonies, concertos for solo instruments and orchestra, works for chorus and orchestra, carols, instrumental music, solo songs, operas and ballets, and suites from film and stage music. In addition to this, OUP also controls the hymns tunes that Vaughan Williams arranged or wrote for The English Hymnal (1906) and Songs of Praise (1925, 1931) and manages the copyrights acquired during Vaughan Williams’s lifetime.

The donation underpins OUP’s ongoing commitment to the works of Vaughan Williams, with its recent publication of Eric Saylor’s biography Vaughan Williams a case in point.

Speaking about the donation, Simon Wright, Head of Rights & Contracts, Music, at Oxford University Press, said: “Ralph Vaughan Williams has inspired generations through his compositions. At OUP, we are honoured to be Vaughan Williams’s primary publisher and to provide a wide range of groups, from orchestras to schools, churches, and choirs, with access to his works. In the same vein, our donation to the British Library demonstrates not only the Press’s commitment to Vaughan Williams’s legacy but is underpinned by our mission for greater accessibility. We hope that researchers, musicologists, and students alike, will be able to enjoy these historic items at the UK’s national library.”

Notes to editors

Please find a list of images to download here:

Please see below for a list of items, including but not limited to, OUP’s donation to the British Library:

Conductors’ full scores

  • The Pilgrim’s Progress (marked by Sir Adrian Boult)
  • Concerto for Tuba and Orchestra (marked by Sir John Barbirolli)
  • Symphony No. 6 (marked by Richard Hickox)

Original iterations of orchestral parts

  • Symphony No. 5
  • Symphony No. 6
  • The Lark Ascending

Film score recording session materials

  • The England of Elizabeth
  • Flemish Farm (‘Dawn Scene’ only)

Pre-publication scores in the hand of copyists, some amended by Vaughan Williams

  • Romance for Harmonica and String Orchestra (piano reduction)
  • Five Variants of ‘Dives and Lazarus’
  • Symphony No. 4
  • The Running Set
  • The Sons of Light
  • Job: A Masque for Dancing (piano reduction used at rehearsals for first danced performance)

Proof copies of scores 

  • Symphony No. 4

Correction copies of scores

  • Symphony No. 4

Miscellaneous editorial materials

  • The Poisoned Kiss (box of inserts, corrections, typescripts of libretti, early copies)

Vaughan Williams typescript programme notes

  • Sinfonia Antartica

If you are interested in further interviews with Simon Wright, please contact




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